BOZICH | Chris Jones says stopping Yogi Ferrell key for Louisvil - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Chris Jones says stopping Yogi Ferrell key for Louisville against Indiana

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Stopping Yogi Ferrell (11) is the key to beating Indiana, said Louisville guard Chris Jones. Stopping Yogi Ferrell (11) is the key to beating Indiana, said Louisville guard Chris Jones.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Wayne Blackshear has not watched a minute of Indiana University basketball this season.

Not the no-defense loss against Eastern Washington. Not the improved-defense victory against Pittsburgh last week.

Ditto for two of Blackshear's teammates at the University of Louisville -- Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier. The Cards and Hoosiers will play in the Jimmy V Classic in Madison Square Garden at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in New York City. Dick Vitale and Dan Shulman will call the call on ESPN.

“I know a lot of their players, but I haven't watched them this year,” Rozier said.

But there is one Cardinal who has watched the next team on the Louisville schedule – guard Chris Jones.

And Jones did not need a scouting report from Rick Pitino to deliver his key to the Cardinals' success to beating the Hoosiers.

“It starts with their point guard, Yogi Ferrell,” Jones said. “We've got to try to cut the head off of the snake.”

Jones knows precisely the guy for the assignment: Chris Jones.

“Most likely,” Jones said. “Most likely it is. It's just something I've got to go along with.”

There is a reason this story line about stopping the opposing point guard sounds like a rerun. Only a week ago the Cards were matched against another Big Ten team (Ohio State) with another point guard (Shannon Scott) doing great things.

Scott, a senior, began the Louisville game with 52 assists and 11 turnovers. Scott exited the KFC Yum! Center with 52 assists and 16 turnovers – as well as a 64-55 defeat.

Scott has not been alone in his struggles against the Louisville defense this season. I ran the numbers for the guards who have started against the Cardinals in U of L's first seven games.

Shooting has been awful and handling the basketball against the Cards' pressure has been worse.

Starting guards have made 47 of 144 shots. That's 33 percent. They have converted 13 of 56 three-point shots. That is 23 percent.

Opposing starting guards have contributed 20 assists. That is less than three per game. They have thrown the ball away 38 times. That is more than five per game.

“It starts on defense,” Jones said. “That's what we're doing right now, playing defense.”

This game will be a solid barometer of how effectively Indiana has cleaned up the turnover problems that put the Hoosiers on an express route to a 17-15 record and no post-season play last season.

A year ago, IU turned the ball over on 21.8 percent of its offensive possessions. That ranked 330th in the nation, according to Ken Pomeroy's web site.

This season, Indiana has improved its turnover rate to 17.3. That ranks 59th in the nation. It's also a better turnover rate than any of Louisville's first seven opponents.

A result of the Hoosiers not getting into the meat of their schedule?

Hard to say. Last season even Nicholls State and Kennesaw State squeezed 20 turnovers out of the Hoosiers before Big Ten play.

The two best teams Indiana has played this season have been SMU and Pittsburgh. IU turned the ball over seven times against SMU and nine against Pitt.

This season Ferrell has two ball-handlers and scorers (James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson) to help him – and he's playing with more efficiency.

Ferrell is averaging 17.3 points per game, 0.1 less than he averaged while leading Indiana in scoring last season. But his shooting, three-point and free-throw percentages as well as his assist numbers have all improved.

Ferrell has shown slight improvement in turnovers, averaging 2.4, 0.2 per game less than last season.

Credit Ferrell, but also credit Blackmon and Johnson. Blackmon is averaging 19.5 points per game, second nationally among all freshmen. At 11.1 points per game, Johnson has not been as prolific, but he also contributes nearly 4 assists and 4.5 rebounds.

This season Ferrell does not have to make every essential shot.

“Blackmon's really getting off and Robert's getting off, too,” said U of L freshman Quentin Snider.

“Should be a good game,” Rozier said. “Tremendous atmosphere. A lot of fun.”

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